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FOX Medical Team

Acupuncture could help allergy sufferers

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Summer is officially two days away, but a lot of us who suffer from springtime allergies are still sniffing and sneezing.

Instead of rushing to your local drug store to stock up on over the counter medicines or calling your doctor to refill a prescription, why not try an ancient Chinese medicine.      

A recent medical study says when patients are given a combination of acupuncture and antihistamines they respond better than just taking the meds.  Practitioners of acupuncture say it makes sense because their type of medicine has been providing relief for allergy sufferers for thousands of years.

The pollen released from spring flowers and blossoms can make your life miserable.  Patient Molly Webb says, "Oh it is dreadful.  I just cringe, (laughs) as soon as I see the pollen on the windshield."

Webb suffers from allergies and with the Mid-South's high pollen count life can be uncomfortable at times.  She's gotten tired of over the counter medications.  "You end up having this need all the time to keep on taking it.  it makes you feel like you are on caffeine all the time," says Webb.

Webb decided to step back in time for allergy treatments with acupuncture.  Licensed Acupuncturist Chuck Sullivan says, "Because this year the pollen rate, a lot of people are suffering because of the way the environment is and what not, so we are pretty busy."

As a licensed acupuncturist, Sullivan inserts thin needles through the skin at strategic points on Molly's body.  The forehead, crown of the skull, and at the pressure points around face.  "I am needling those sinus areas that are really tender on people," says Sullivan.

The treatment includes needles in the hand and in the foot between the toes.  Webb says, "I can feel energy going from my toes all the way up to my head.  It just opens things up a little bit. It is taking the pressure off."

Western practitioners view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue.  It can boost the activity of your body's natural painkillers and increase blood flow.

Purists believe the needles help to create an energy that puts your body in balance to deal with irritating pollen.  
 
Recent medical studies have shown that patients who pair acupuncture with antihistamines have reported significant relief.  "Chinese medicine has been around for a minimum of 2,000 years. If it was a fad, it certainly would have passed by now," says Sullivan.
 
Forty-five minutes later, the needles have been removed and Molly Webb's treatment is complete, time to get on with her life despite the pollen count.

"My head is cleared up.  I can get on with my day.  I am planning to get into the garden and do some gardening, which I wouldn't normally do, if I was in an allergy state," says Webb.

This story orginally appeared on MyFoxMemphis.com

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